Dated: 29 June 2020
On the23rd of
May 2019, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, Zimbabwe Coalition on
Debt and Development and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches brought together more
than 100 community members drawn from Sese Village of Chivi, local leaders,
faith-based organisations and civil society organisations who gathered at the
Chivi Community Hall for the inaugural Chivi District Alternative Mining
Noting the urgent need to
bring together a broad range of stakeholders from the mining community to
discuss mining related development in the community and its possible impact on
the ordinary citizens. One of the causes for concern was how mining investment in
the community is totally opposed to principles of good practices on business
and human rights.
We are in 2020, and ordinarily this time around we should be convening the District Alternative Mining Indabas (DAMI). However, the coronavirus scourge has resulted in less direct interaction with communities. This pandemic has had a global effect, literally affecting all the facets of life. Zimbabwe has not been spared either,561 positive coronavirus cases and six deaths have been recorded so far. The government began a nationwide lockdown on March 30, 2020 and it must be noted that the mining sector was exempted from the lockdown as an essential service given its contribution to national economic development and generation of the much-needed foreign currency. Mining companies were ordered to fully ensure the safety and health of their workers by observing guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).It is commendable to note that some mining companies have managed to put in place measures to improve access to health care and medical facilities for their workers. However, it remains important for mining companies to assess the vulnerabilities associated with mineral supply chain actors in the contraction and spread of COVID-19. Mining communities like anyone else are susceptible to the virus and are at a greater risk of infection owing to the mobility of investors, small-scale miners and poorly equipped health facilities in the communities.
It is against this background that mining companies must ensure that they shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that their employees and surrounding communities are safe. This is one of several progressive ways to compensate the mining-affected communities for loss of their lands, livelihoods and the destructive environmental impacts of mining.
Mining communities close to porous borders like Chivi, Penhalonga among others are faced with a peculiar risk – growing influx of returnees sneaking into communities and avoiding quarantine places. Therefore, it is important for the Government to put in place measures to safeguard people living in these communities. Information dissemination and civic education on preventive/safeguarding measures should be put in place.
The global pandemic has compelled several organisations to adopt new ways of working while ensuring that no one is left behind. The Alternative Mining Indabas’ signature objective is to ensure that citizens are mobilized and empowered to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies that enable sustainable socio-economic development hinged on mineral wealth exploitation. Given the country’s vast mineral resource endowments, if these are judiciously exploited, they can lead to sustainable socio-economic growth, industrialization, job creation, and investment in human development projects. This vision is also enshrined in the Africa Mining Vision (AMV).
is against this background that ZELA, ZIMCODD and ZCC conducted DAMI radio dialogue
sessions. The radio series were aimed at discussing mining related development
in the Chivi community and its possible impacts on the ordinary citizens. In addition, the radio conversations brought to the
fore the socio-economic implications of coronavirus to the mineral host
the 7th of May 2020 the radio dialogue focused on the theme; Amplifying
community voices in fighting mining related injustices and inequalities.’
- The panellist took the opportunity to
raise awareness on the COVID-19 related laws and their implications on
limitation of rights as well as the corporate social responsibility that
accrued to companies such as Murowa Diamonds who were exempted and granted full
operating rights during the lockdown.
- Some of the issues raised during the
question and answer session were related to access to water and the right to a
clean and safe environment. The listeners indicated that Murowa Diamond company
allegedly contaminated some of their water sources and due to the COVID-19
lockdown conditions, they were now failing to move freely to other areas to
obtain clean and safe water.
20th of May’s discussion centred around Free Prior and Informed
- The critical aspects of free, prior and
informed consent (FPIC) were discussed including how it is an essential tool to
protect environmental and human rights.
- It was underscored that free, prior and
informed consent process ensures that there is equal consideration of various
perspectives and ensures inclusive decision – making.
- Questions from the listeners arose on the
practicality of FPIC to which this was addressed through references to the
- Communities were made aware that whilst
FPIC is not expressly found in the Constitution, this principle is implied in
Sections 13 (national development), 62 (access to information), 68 (right to
administrative justice) and 73 (environmental rights) and these sections would
be their redress avenues.
27th of May’s focus was on Tax Justice and Community Beneficiation
- Community beneficiation in Zimbabwe used
to be contained in the Indigenous and Economic Empowerment legal framework and
in the mining sector this was through establishment of community share
- The current government reviewed the laws
and repealed this legal framework. Initially the indication was the scrapping
of CSOTs for all the other minerals except for platinum and diamonds. This
pronouncement was then followed with another one indicating that even the
diamond and platinum sectors would not be subject of CSOTs anymore. The key
objective of the trusts was to ensure that communities benefit from the
exploitation of natural resources in their localities.
- Although some of the CSOTs had challenges,
in some instances they really worked to improve community services. We
highlighted that we believe that in the absence of a legal framework for
community benefits like the CSOTs, the government must come up with an improved
scheme to achieve much better results aimed at economically and socially
empowering indigenous communities living in mineral resource areas. This will
ensure that they benefit from the extraction of the minerals. In addition, the
government can impose certain taxes and obligations on companies that are doing
extractive work to ensure that communities benefit from the mining activities.
- Tax systems need to be understood within
the wider context of fiscal policy and the effective management of public resources
for the benefit of the majority.
- Listeners were given a practical
application of national development in the Constitution vis- a vis the mining
activities on the ground. The issues of job creation that were anticipated in
communities such as Chivi were raised and it was highlighted how companies and
communities can come up with strategies to overcome the obstacles and potential
conflict in the area.
time last year, we made the following recommendations to the Government of
Zimbabwe, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and relevant stakeholders
and we continue to echo the same sentiments a year down the line.
Zimbabwe continues to push for Foreign Direct Investment under the dictum of
Zimbabwe is “Open for Business,” policies must be suitably tailored to promote
intra and inter-generational equity in the mining sector;
mutually beneficial partnership between the state, the private sector, civil
society, local communities and other stakeholders must be developed;
- Responsible investments should conform to
Zimbabwean mining laws, uphold the principles of the United Nations Guiding
Principles on Business and Human Rights which have provisions that in order to
promote responsible investments, States have the duty to protect everyone
within their territory from human rights abuses committed by business
- Mining laws must be aligned with
Constitutional provisions not limited to transparency and accountability,
financial probity, respect of human rights, passage of mining concession laws;
is need for genuine involvement of communities during the Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA) process while Communities should be consulted adequately
prior, during and post EIA process;
is need for the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Ministry of Finance
and Economic Development and other relevant stakeholders to expedite the
adoption of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative as committed in
the 2019 National budget for the good governance of Zimbabwe’s mineral
- As the Government of Zimbabwe
moves towards reforming the archaic Mines and Minerals Act, our call is that it
recognises and formalises the artisanal and small-scale mining sector. It is
important to recognise that ASM is both a poverty-driven and a poverty
alleviating, finite activity.
Harnessing mineral resources for
economic development and community empowerment is critical in addressing the
poverty scourge and improving the quality of life for all Zimbabweans as
envisioned by section 13 of the Constitution.
“Promoting Safe and